Suggested Reading: Matthew 15:21-28
Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.—Matthew 15:28
Great faith will result in supernatural manifestations of healing, miracles, and wonders in our life. All levels and depths of faith will get a response from the Lord; for Jesus taught if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain be moved into the sea and it will be done for you (Matthew 17:20). Faith as small as a mustard seed is pretty small; that kind of, hanging-on-by-your-fingertips-faith. Small faith will allow us to see great things from God. That is super encouraging because sometimes a little faith is all we have.
But here, Jesus commends a Canaanite woman for having great faith. She was not one of his followers; she was not an all-on-board-for Jesus, person. Prayer, worship, morning devotions, reading the Scriptures was not in her tradition or upbringing. She had learned about Jesus, knew who he was from what she had heard, then made her way to where he was and confidently approached him with a bold request to heal her daughter of demon possession, because she had faith he could do it. Her faith was great because against all odds she believed in the power of Jesus to heal and broke tradition with her religious customs and the worship practices of her ancestry.
Maybe that is what makes great faith. Not how long we have believe in Jesus because we have been raised to believe in him, but when we go against everything else to have faith in him regardless of what everybody else says or does.
Mustard seed faith is fine if that is all we can muster (pun intended!) but when we need to buck the system, go against tradition, exercise faith that isn’t normally exercised in that way; then we will need great faith to do it.
In that case a woman (or man) who has an unbelieving spouse, has married into an unbelieving family will often need to pull from great faith, like that of the Canaanite woman, in order to see any miracles manifested in her home or family. A college student away from home in a setting where their spirituality is not seen as something to display might need to accomplish things through great faith. Someone might find themselves displaying and acting out great faith in their workplace environment where faith in the Lord is viewed negatively.
I can remember a Chaplin our family knew who did not grow up in a believing family; they were about as unbelieving as anyone could be. However, in his adult life he became a Christian Chaplin, despite his family’s disbelief. It took not mustard seed or small faith, but great faith for him to give his life over to a God and Savior his family was distanced from, breaking tradition and going against the grain of their family’s culture of unbelief.
When Jesus chided his disciples about having little faith, he was not saying great faith was superior to their mustard seed faith; but only they should know better, be capable of more, be able to display great faith because they had witnessed and experienced his power up close and personal. Because of what and who they knew.
Jesus did not punish his disciples and he does not punish us if we come just barely hanging on by a faith-strand. He does not withhold his goodness or power, or skimp on his blessings, saying we only get half a miracle because our faith is so tiny you can barely see it, but he recognizes the circumstances of each one of us and knows what it takes for us to turn to him in our time of need. To the faith-filled he extends his grace and mercy.
The Canaanite woman departed from Jesus that day with a faith that was bursting at the seams, it was already great but when she left him it was as strong as a rock. She might have come to him as an unbeliever, but she did not leave him that way. Great faith or tiny faith; whichever brings us to the foot of the cross, brings us to our knees to pray to Jesus having faith that he can or will do whatever we ask or need, that faith ends up being the opening Jesus will use to not only bless us but encourage us to have even more faith. Let’s Pray,
Jesus, sometimes we have not because we ask not, but when we are willing to come to you in faith—great or small-we will experience and witness your power, your grace, your love for us in action. In your name we pray, Amen
Living Courageously in Christ: What about the Canaanite woman’s great faith in Jesus, even though she was not a believer nor raised in that kind of faith-filled environment, inspires you to have great faith in Jesus also?